What Curation Means to Motion Art Journal

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the Twitter Chat ‘Curation in the NFT Space’ from Vertical Crypto Art (@verticalcrypto).  The conversation was wonderful, but revealed to me that people view curation in very different ways.  So I have decided to write what it means to ME.  I am not going to pretend to know what the textbook definition is, and I know that there are going to be various ways to see it.  This is my opinion.

Loving the Art

To me curation starts with loving a particular kind of art.  Even salaried Museum curators of many years I am sure love the subject that they work with and curate.  Otherwise, why are they there?

I love short motion art, or animated gifs.  So that is what I curate.   You can read this blog for more nuance about what that means, but I do not write about anything that does not move.  If a piece is longer than around 60 seconds or gets into narrative territory, I do not write about it.

So I think maybe part of curation is defining what it is you are curating.  You need to define it for yourself at least, but it is helpful to able to explain it to someone, and possibly even write about it.  I do this all the time.  Again, this is just me.  

Writing about specific Artwork

The heart of curation, in my opinion, is writing in my own way why I think specific art is great.  I limit myself to a particular piece or perhaps a few related pieces.  This is important I think.

Artists can create all kinds of art across the span of their career.  Sometimes they do very different things at very different times.  So for me it not a profile of an artist, it is a profile of a particular work or series of works that have a similar aesthetic.

I imagine having a conversation with someone and telling them why I think this particular art is great.  They may disagree, but it is important that I clearly state what it is I love about it.  It does not have to include the artists history, the technology used, the time it was made, or any other details.  Just that work, or works, and how I react to them.

And I think it needs to be written down.  Because as a curator you will be communicating with people online who will need to understand you.  You could make a video of yourself saying it, but I like writing it down.

I do not write a lot, usually write a few sentences, maybe a couple of paragraphs.  Hard core museum curators of course can write much much more about a particular work of art.  But a few sentences is hard enough, and I think long enough to enable you to express what you think.

To me, collecting and buying are not Curating

Some people feel that simply liking or collecting things is curation.  They will say this:  If a person buys certain artworks or likes certain things, isn’t that someone organizing art in a formal way and isn’t that the same as curation?

To me it is not curation.  That is liking and collecting.  Curating, to me, goes a step further and involves some explanation for why you think particular artwork is great.  I think curation means putting in the work to explain why you think it is great.

Adding details is helpful, but not the main thing

In addition to writing about the work, I always add some details about the artist.  Who they are, where they are from, maybe some details about their techniques.  This is important for the artist and the reader.  It does not have to be a lot.

I never feel that I need to really understand the technology or the history of what they are doing.  I am not a coder but I have written a lot a out coder artists.  I feel that I am qualified to say whether I think some code art is good with knowing Processing.  And I do not think I need to know the entire history of a particular artist who may have been doing work for a long time to say what I think about a particular piece.

I sometimes take issue with serious art journals that write about art and seem to only include history or intention or technology details, as if that in and of itself makes the art good.  Just because someone made something with photos of  100,000 marbles run through and AI program that relates to a historical event does not mean it is good art (I just made that up as an example).

I don’t think Curation is the same as criticism

Art critics look at work and say whether they are successful of not, and they say negative things about some artwork. That is a particular thing that is different that curation in my opinion.  As I said above, Curation starts, at least for me, from a standpoint of love and positivity.  I do not feel it is my role to say whether something is good or not.  The act of my curating it means I think it is good.

I don’t think interviews with Artists is Curation

Interviews with artists are wonderful and give you all kinds of information about their personality, attitudes toward their work, and other things.  I do it all the time.   However I do not believe that interviewing alone is curation.  It can be part of it, but in my opinion the key part of curation is the selection of artwork and description of why it is good or great art.  Other than basic information about the artists, everything else is secondary.


There can and will be many opinions about this that differ from mine.  Just as there are many different opinions about what great art it is.  But this is how I see it.  What I do think is true is what Wade Wallerstein (@habitual_truant) said during the call last week.  Anyone can be a curator.  There are no rules about who can do it.  All it requires is the work.

Written by David Koblesky

Original article: https://the-art-of-animated-gifs.tumblr.com/post/654258018359410688/what-curation-means-to-me

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